A Republican-backed bill making its way through the Ohio House would require the Ohio Department of Health and the state’s board of education to develop an instructional program that teaches “the humanity of the unborn child.”
Each school district would then have the option of teaching the program or crafting its own instructional materials, which must “describe the unborn child in two-week gestational periods,” according to State Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Montgomery County), lead sponsor of the bill.
House Bill 90 explicitly states that its goal is to provide “information about the humanity of an unborn child” and achieve “an abortion-free society.”
The bill would also require the Department of Health to create materials with “the most readily available, accurate, scientifically verifiable, up-to-date information” that “clearly and consistently state that abortion kills a living human being.”
The bill was referred to the House Health Committee, where it received its fourth hearing Tuesday.
“Schools have the ability to directly influence the lives of students. Unfortunately, schools do not have the ability to teach about the importance of human life, as the rights of the unborn have been constantly under attack,” Antani said in his sponsor testimony. “My legislation would help school districts care for their students and unborn children by empowering them with vital educational information on health care and adoption agencies in the area.”
The bill has faced significant pushback from pro-abortion advocates in the state, including several chapters of Planned Parenthood that testified against the bill.
“It is quite evident, as I’m sure you know, that this bill is anti-abortion propaganda and will attract only grantees that intend to reinforce your own morals regarding sexuality,” said Kimberly Mason, who testified on behalf of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio.
She went on to state in her testimony that the bill “is founded on personal principles and carries no scientific or medical substance.”
“These arguments also propel the stigma surrounding abortion, which seeks to dehumanize individuals seeking abortion, those providing abortion care, and those who support abortion rights,” Mason added.
Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, also testified against the bill, which she believes would eliminate “local control” over educational standards.
“Most concerning is that rather than giving students a full range of information so that they can evaluate, analyze, synthesize, apply, and think critically, the intent of this bill is to limit information in the hopes that a political agenda can be achieved,” Cropper said.
But Ohio Right to Life thinks that the bill would “allow schools the option to increase education surrounding the development of the unborn.”
“The more we are able to understand the developmental process and what is happening inside of the womb, the more we have seen hearts and minds change on the issue of life,” said Jessica Warner, director of legislative affairs for Ohio Right to Life. “When we are able to more clearly see the scientific reality of life in the womb, we are also able to understand the brutality and inhumanity of abortion.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 3.0.